Friday, January 19, 2018

Hamferd Interview

1.    Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?
Jón: It has been quite some time since we finished “Támsins likam”, and because we wanted to have a complete product to showcase our capabilities, most of the time since has been spent talking to labels and discussing how to advance the band and the new record. Luckily, Metal Blade was interesting in talking with us and showed keen interest in supporting us in exactly the way we had hoped. They signed us on, and since the Summer of 2017, we have been working together to prepare for the release of “Támsins likam”, developing the artwork, creating music videos, all the amazing things surrounding the making of an album. It has been exciting, but also quite exhausting, and it’s a great relief to finally have the record out!

2.    You have a new album coming out early this year, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
Theodor: I think that “Támsins likam” is an evolution of the sound we have created on our first two records. However, the biggest change from our previous albums to this one is that “Támsins likam” has been written as a whole piece of music.  The songs do work in isolation, but we feel that the music is best represented when you listen to the album in its entirety and hear the songs in the context of the album. I'd say that the new album is more intense than our older stuff. There is more dissonance and tension in the music which means people probably need to hear the album a few times before it really starts making sense.

3.    This is your first album since 2013, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time span?
Jón: We did quite a bit of touring after “Evst”, especially in 2013 and 2014. Since then, most of the time has been spent writing. The concept of “Támsins likam”, both musically and lyrically, are grand in scope, and it has taken a lot of time and work to build them and coordinate them, trying to get everything connect and come together as a coherent whole. This working process has been quite new to us, and it has certainly been the biggest challenge we have undertaken so far.

4.    Your lyrics cover the folklore of your home country, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic?
Jón: I find that folklore is quite an inseparable part of Faroese culture on quite a deep level. It used to be a pillar of social development back when the written word was uncommon and stories were told as they were heard without much enlightened scrutiny. All nationalities or societies have a history of word-of-mouth knowledge, but the Faroe Islands are small and isolated, and the stories have lived on through swift modernization.
Personally, I have always been a fan of fantasy and science fiction, particularly when working with ancient and modern concepts alongside each other. The timelessness of some ideas is awe-inspiring, while, on the other hand, some ancient ones are astonishingly imaginative but completely incompatible with reality.

5.    I know that the band’s name describes the epiphany of a dead/missing seamen in your native tongue, how does this name fit in with the musical style you play?
Jón: Considering that we anchor our concept quite firmly in Faroese culture and folklore, I think it is quite fitting that we name ourselves for this particular supernatural phenomenon. It made perfect sense 10 years ago, and it makes perfect sense now. Still, we have yet to include hamferð in our lyrics yet, but we aim to correct that when we start writing for our next album.

6.    What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Theodor: We have had quite a few memorable shows, to list them all would probably take me a few hours. However, if I were to mention one it probably has to be when we performed in the cathedral of Tórshavn back in 2013. You probably need an insight into Faroese society and history to properly grasp the context of a doom metal band being allowed to perform in a church in The Faroes, but it was a truly unique experience and one which we will never forget. A recording of us performing the song “Vráin” from that concert can be found on Youtube.
We always try to approach our stage performances as ceremonies. We dress in black suits as if we were attending a funeral, and we spend a lot of energy into trying to create a very specific atmosphere at our shows which hopefully adds to the experience of seeing us live. We are not the type of band that will show up wearing jeans and band t-shirts even if most of us are also in other bands where we do exactly that.

7.    Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
Jón: Yes, we will go on a European tour on February 2nd with Downfall of Gaia, first visiting 8 countries over 16 dates, and then going on a 4-date tour in Denmark. After that, we return to the Faroe Islands for our release concert in the Tórshavn Theatre on March 17th. Later in the year there will be a few festivals and hopefully another tour in the Fall. We are aiming to cover many more countries!

8.    On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of doom and death metal?
Jón: Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and of course, since we play very doomy music, fans of doom/death tend to appreciate our music. But we are not aiming exclusively for that demographic with the music we make, so there may be some more traditional doomsters out there who don’t enjoy our style and that’s perfectly fine. We still have one and a half feet solidly planted in doom, but we are not necessarily married to one particular genre.
Since we have only toured Europe so far, that is probably where you will find the majority of our listeners. After signing with Metal Blade Records, though, our profile in North America definitely seems to be strengthening. We are also aware of listeners from countries as diverse as South Africa, Iran, Russia, Australia and Brazil, among others, and we are really hoping to be able to tour outside of Europe in the next year or two. You never know!

9.    What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Theodor: The guys in the band who are probably most busy with other projects are Jón and John. Jón is releasing a new album with Barren Earth in a few months, and I think that John is entering the studio with his other band Hamradun quite soon. Me and John also have a death metal side-project called Goresquad, as soon as we get the time we will write 2-3 songs more and record a new EP. So there are a few things going on here and there, but our focus right now is 100% on Hamferð and on our upcoming touring in support of “Támsins likam”.

10.  Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Jón: There are many different ways for us to go, and I think the biggest challenge will be deciding which elements are the most crucial for us as a band. Certainly, the cultural and environmental aspects of the Faroe Islands will always be a sort of framework for us, and the Faroese language is an integral part of the Hamferð-concept. Thematically and atmospherically, the darker shades of life are more fascinating to us than ever, so it is unlikely that we will move into modern Anathema territory quite yet.
But each member of Hamferð has their own unique musical style and aspirations, which may take us into interesting territory in the future. As I have stated earlier: If we manage to find and maintain the band’s core elements, we are not necessarily bound to one particular genre. It goes without saying that it takes a hell of a lot of work to create something entirely new when you have already released a few albums and established a certain style. But I believe we are ready for pretty much anything that comes our way.

11.  What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Theodor: That's a hard question to answer for us collectively, so I will just answer it for myself. The artists which have probably directly influenced me the most while writing on our latest album would be two old guys by the name of Tchaikovsky and Mahler. I was listening to a lot of classical music a few years ago when we started writing “Támsins likam”, so that influenced the way I approached writing quite a bit. However I try to stay away from getting directly influenced by anyone for Hamferð's music. By now we have a pretty good idea of what we want Hamferð to sound like, so we don't need to consciously reference any other musicians or composers to be able to write our own music. I have a few artists which I rip off all the time for Goresquad though, that band is a 100% copycat haha. It's a lot of fun to write music which isn't supposed to be original but just has to be cool. But in the long run it is more rewarding to try to create something unique, at least for me.
I don't listen to as many different artists as I used to a few years ago. I work with music full-time, so when I sit down and listen to music by myself I like to listen to stuff I know well, and if I get a new album which I really enjoy I can usually listen to it a lot before I get bored of it. Some of the artists that I've been listening to lately are Leprous, Karnivool, Pain Of Salvation and Cannibal Corpse.
Jón: With regards to the writing of ‘Támsins likam’, my approach was similar to Theodor’s, although my experience with conceptual albums has mostly come through progressive rock and metal, and I also tend to gravitate towards weirder, avant-garde-ish styles of metal. That usually shines through when I am writing vocal lines. I am also very careful not to make obvious references or copy a certain style, but of course, you always end up making something that you yourself would like to hear, so the connection is always there, somehow.
Personally, I am always digging for new music, although getting older usually means getting more picky, while amazement becomes increasingly rare. Recently, I have been digging new stuff from old favourites, like Pain of Salvation, Akercocke and Fleshkiller, a band that has risen from the ashes of Extol. The new Sorcerer album was pretty epic as well. But I have gotten way behind, and lately I’ve found myself backtracking a few years back, to albums I still haven’t checked out. So much music, so little time!

12.  What are some of your non-musical interests?
Jón: I recently received my Master’s degree in Biology and have a very strong interest in nature and the environment. Birds are a big focus of mine, both in research and in daily life, and I do enjoy a proper birding trip now and then. Besides that, I enjoy reading, particularly sci-fi and fantasy novels, and a bit of gaming. Movies and series also get their share of my time, and currently I am very much into 70’s and 80’s sci-fi and horror movies. So all in all, you could say that I’m a big consumer of both science and fiction.
Theodor: I've turned into a bit of an outdoors guy over the last couple of years, when weather permits I try to get out as much as possible. The Faroe Islands is a small place, but as soon as you start embracing the outdoors there is an almost unlimited amount of things to do and experience. I have a small boat which I go fishing with and I have two big Border Collies which I walk twice a day. This time of year it can be a bit tricky as the weather tends to be pretty bad in these parts, but when you've got dogs you have no choice but to get your ass off the couch and go out with them. Apart from all that I'm a big football fan, I'm finishing up an open water scuba diving certificate and I am taking a part-time university degree in mathematics. So as you can see I like to keep myself busy!

13.  Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Jón and Theodor: First of all, we’d like to thank you for your interest in us and our new album. Secondly, we hope people will enjoy ‘Támsins likam’ and get the experience from it that we have been trying to realize. And lastly, we sincerely hope that your readers will come see us live, if it so happens that we are visiting the area in February. See you on the road!

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